AFC West

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by jeff beyel

AFC West Preview (In Predicted Order Of Finish)

The AFC West has been utterly whacky for a few seasons now and this year should be no different.  A highly volatile pack of teams has just about everyone in the hunt in a division that posted 3 teams to the playoffs a season ago!  The Raiders and coach Walt Sienzant, who have slowly improved each year, could be the team to beat this year if, and that is a big if indeed, QB Mitch Tribusky can play a bit better than his ratings suggest. They have firepower in the backfield with Marlon Mack and Latavius Murray although neither is a major pass catching weapon. However, the Raiders clearly have the best receiving posse in the division. Amari Cooper, AJ Brown, DeVante Parker, and Anthony Miller form one of the most potent pass catching foursomes in the league.  In addition, the Silver and Black Attack have the luxury of two very good tight end targets in Austin Hooper and Mike Gesicki! The offensive line should stay healthy and be consistent and can pass protect.

 DE Josh Allen will lead a pretty good defensive line that is diverse. Devon Kinnard is a good Line-backer and this unit is at least average while it does possess some pass rushing potentials. S Minkah Fitzpatrick is as good as it gets and CB Jalen Ramsey can play but there are some health concerns in the back line.

This may seem amazing but here are the Denver Broncos! One of the most beleaguered franchises in the PAFL is led by coach Howard Berkert and this gang of horses looks like it could contend in the West. Young, and quickly developing, quarterback Josh Allen is, no pun intended, at the reins and he has a bruiser of a back in Nick Chub to hand the rock to as well as an excellent third down back named Tarik Cohen. Chubb is in the mold of Derrick Henry tipping the scales at 5’11” 227 lbs while Cohen is a scat back with a tank body at just 5’6” but a stout 191lbs!  Tight end Darren Waller is an elite player and, if the bevy of receivers paced by Diontae Johnson and veteran slot receiver Cole Beasely can find ways to make some noise, this group might just get the team to the playoffs. A major concern will be the health, or lack of it, along the offensive line and how that plays out will go a long way in determining the final status of the Broncos.

  The defensive line should be ok but not great. DE Trent Murphy is probably the best here. A serious worry has to be at the critical line-backing spots where the team lacks talent.  Veteran Chris Harris will take charge of a secondary that is also average.

Man oh man, this is tough.  Seattle , like most of this division, has enough good pieces to win the thing but also enough holes to finish last.  QB Russell Wilson has been a steady and very good presence in Seattle since day 1 and remains so. But, can RB Adrian Peterson and dynamic Raheem Mostert get it done? As a tandem they should be fine but both are simply zero factors in the passing game. That means WRs Mike Evans and Nelson Amendola are going to have to shoulder a big load this year. TE Darren Fells is capable but lacks consistent ability to be a 4-5 pass receptions per game target. The offensive line is, in all likelihood, below average although it can pass protect pretty well.

The Niners and coach Todd Cichon are another team that could place anywhere from first to last.  Ryan Fitzpatrick will run the show and Fitzmagic’s year is going to be the main factor for San Francisco. The backfield has some skill but is injury prone and that will be a huge detriment as the year progresses. RB Jamaal Williams is the top ball carrier they have. Odell Beckham and DK Metcalf are solid at WR but the team has little else to go to. T Bradon Smith and G Trae Turner head up an Oline that has some potential but is also weak at RT and C.

   DE Danielle Hunter is a beast that teams will need to contend with. The OLB position is unsettled with Terrell Suggs slated to play there or at DE.  Marlon Humphrey is one of the best corners in football and he has two other decent CBs with Kevin King and Ronald Darby but both of those are injury worries.  Still, when all three are healthy, they can match up with most of the spread attacks in the division. S Kevin Byard increases in value if he used up in the box and fellow S Micah Hyde is slightly above average.

The Kansas City Chiefs are under the new leadership of coach Robert Baker as long time league mentor Robert Parrish is no longer at the helm.  Baker inherits a very good young QB in Kyler Murray but he will have to get some mileage out of backs Austin Ekeler and Royce Freeman.  Ekeler is a dual threat and is among the very best receiving backs in all of football. The team lacks any real wide receivers on the team with tight end Hunter Henry the top weapon. The absence of targets is likely going to spell long term doom for this team. The offensive line is not great but at least it should remain relatively healthy and consistent.

   The KC front seven is woefully lacking.  The defensive line might rate among the weakest in football aside from DE JJ Watt but he will miss time for sure.  The line-backing is not good as well with Corey Littlelton the best they have on roster. Even the secondary has serious flaws and worries.

 

Final Analysis:  This division had 3 teams make it to the playoffs last season and it is possible again this year.  But, The AFC East and Central have enough good teams that it is wholly possible that only the division winner will make it to the post-season.  Oakland has the most toys but are just vulnerable enough where they could be beaten but time will tell.

Wrap up

Ok..here we go..
 
In playoffs:  Dallas, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Los Angeles, Carolina, and Chicago...
 
NFC Finals:  Los Angeles and either Green Bay or Philly
 
Over in the AFC
 
In Playoffs:  New England, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, and Cleveland.
 
AFC Finals: Patriots vs Colts or Bills!
 
Super Bowl winner?????
 
Rams once again but in an exciting final vs Pats or Bills.